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The American to the British Plenipotentiaries."
Ghent, October 13th, 1814. The undersigned have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the note of the plenipotentiaries of His Britannic Majesty, dated on the 8th instant.
Considering the present state of the negotiation, the undersigned will abstain, at this time, from adducing any evidence or remarks upon the influence which has been exerted over the Indian tribes inhabiting the territories of the United States, and the nature of those excitements which have been employed by British traders and agents.
The arguments and facts already brought forward by the undersigned respecting the political condition of those tribes render it unnecessary for them to make many observations on those of the British plenipotentiaries on that subject. The treaties of 1763, and of 1783, were those principally alluded to by the undersigned to illustrate the practice of Great Britain. She did not admit in the first, nor require in the last, any stipulations respecting the Indians who, in one case, had been her enemies, and in the other her allies, and who, in both instances, fell by the peace within the dominions of that Power against whom they had been engaged in the preceding war.
The negotiation of 1761, was quoted for the purpose of proving what appears to be fully established by the answer of England to the ultimatum of France, delivered on the first of September of that year, that His Britannic Majesty would not renounce his right of protection over the Indian nations reputed to be within his dominions, that is to say, between the British settlements and the Mississippi. Mr. Pitt's letter, cited by the British plenipotentiaries, far from contradicting that position, goes still further. It states that “the fixation of the new limits to Canada, as proposed by France, is intended to shorten the extent of Canada, which was to be ceded to England, and to lengthen the boundaries of Louisiana, which France was to keep, and in the view to establish what must be not admitted, namely, that all which is not Canada is Louisiana, whereby all the intermediate nations
American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. III, p. 723.
and countries, the true barrier to each province, would be given up to France.” This is precisely the principle uniformly supported by the undersigned, to wit, that the recognition of a boundary gives up to the nation in whose behalf it is made, all the Indian tribes and countries within that boundary. It was on this principle that the undersigned have confidently relied on the treaty of 1783, which fixes and recognizes the boundary of the United States without making any reservation respecting Indian tribes.
But the British plenipotentiaries, unable to produce a solitary precedent of one European Power treating for the savages inhabiting within the dominions of another, have been compelled, in support of their principle, to refer to the German Empire, a body consisting of several independent States, recognized as such by the whole world, and separately maintaining, with foreign Powers, the relations belonging to such a condition. Can it be necessary to prove that there is no sort of analogy between the political situation of these civilized communities and that of the wandering tribes of North American savages?
In referring to what the British plenipotentiaries represent as alarming and novel pretensions, which Great Britain can never authorize, the undersigned might complain that these alleged pretensions have not been stated, either in terms or in substance, as expressed by themselves. This, however, is the less material as any further recognition of them by Great Britain is not necessary nor required. On the other hand, they can never admit nor recognize the principles or pretensions asserted in the course of this correspondence by the British plenipotentiaries, and which to them appear novel and alarming.
The article proposed by the British plenipotentiaries in their last note, not including the Indian tribes as parties in the peace, and leaving the United States free to effect its object in the mode consonant with the relations which they have constantly maintained with those tribes, partaking, also, of the nature of an amnesty, and being at the same time reciprocal, is not liable to that objection, and accords with the views uniformly professed by the undersigned, of placing those tribes precisely, and in every respect, in the same situation as that in which they stood before the commencement of hostilities. This article, thus proposing only what the undersigned have so often assured the British plenipotentiaries would necessarily follow, if, indeed, it has not already, as is highly probable, preceded, a peace between Great Britain and the United States, the undersigned agree to admit it in substance as a provisional article, subject, in the manner originally proposed by the British Government, to the approbation or rejection of the Government of the United States, which, having given no instructions to the undersigned on this point, cannot be bound by any article they may admit on the subject.
It will, of course, be understood, that if, unhappily, peace should not be the result of the present negotiation, the article thus conditionally agreed to, shall be of no effect, and shall not, in any future negotiation, be brought forward by either party by way of argument or precedent.
This article having been presented as an indispensable preliminary, and being now accepted, the undersigned request the British plenipotentiaries to communicate to them a project of a treaty embracing all the points deemed material by Great Britain; the undersigned engaging on their part, to deliver, immediately after, a counter project with respect to all the articles to which they may not agree, and on the subjects deemed material by the United States, and which may be admitted in the British project.
Henry Clay to the American Minister at Paris.'
October 17th, 1814. As this article strips their principle of some of its most exceptional features, and as we did not like a rupture upon such ground, especially as it was highly probable that the article itself would be inoperative by a previous pacification with the Indians, we concluded to accept it, with the full knowledge by the other party that our Government, having given us no instructions on the subject, was free to adopt or reject it.
Crawford Papers, Library of Congress.
EXHIBIT 142. .
Lord Bathurst to the Commissioners at Ghent.
FOREIGN OFFICE, October 18, 1814. My Lord and Gentlemen-I have had the honour of receiving your despatch, No. 9, transmitting a copy of a note from the American Plenipotentiaries. The American Plenipotentiaries having, in that note, consented to accept, provisionally, the Article which you proposed, relating to the pacification of the Indian tribes or nations, and having expressed a wish that the British Plenipotentiaries should now communicate the projet of a treaty embracing all the points deemed material to Great Britain, the American Plenipotentiaries engaging, on their part, to deliver in a counter-projet, in respect to all the Articles to which they may not agree--you are instructed to state, that the three material points which remain for consideration are the following (etc).
The British to the American Plenipotentiaries.?
GHENT, October 21st, 1814. The undersigned have had the honor of receiving the note of the American plenipotentiaries of the 13th instant, communicating their acceptance of the article which the undersigned had proposed on the subject of the pacification and rights of the Indian nations.
J. Q. Adams to the Secretary of State.
GHENT 25. October 1814. N. 142. THE SECRETARY OF STATE
OF THE UNITED STATES. SIR,
We now send you copies of all our official Correspondence with the British Plenipotentiaries since the departure of Mr.
Correspondence of Lord Castlereagh, 3rd Series, Vol. II, p. 168. 2American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. III, p. 724.
Dallas. From their first Note of 19. August, transmitted by Mr. Dallas to you, and from our conference with them on the same day which had preceded it, we had supposed it to be the intention of the British Government to break off the Negotiation immediately; the conversation of their Ministers, after receiving our answer to that Note tended at first to confirm that opinion, but they concluded eventually to refer to their Government, before they sent us their reply, and when that finally came it afforded a presumption which every thing since has confirmed that the real object of the British Government was neither to conclude Peace, nor to break off the Negotiation: but to delay. Of this policy the advantage was all on their side. They knew that whatever might happen, a Peace, honourable and advantageous to them might be concluded in one week, should the course of Events in Europe or in America render it in their estimate, advisable to terminate the War, and they chose to avail themselves of the advantages which the successes of this Campaign in America would give them, and of the chances either of permanent tranquillity, or of new troubles in Europe, which might result from the Congress at Vienna.
Although this policy was sufficiently disclosed to us, from the time when we received the second Note of the British Ministers, we have at the same time perceived that our only practicable expedient for counteracting it would be to break off the Negotiation on our part. We have deemed this unadvisable, because we thought the rupture should not proceed from us, so long as a possibility remained that a just and honourable peace might be concluded, and because it was barely possible that the course of Events, might fix the intentions of the British Government in favour of Peace. It will be observed that the Sine qua non, upon the admission of which they at first placed the continuance of the Negotiation, was already varied in their second Note, most essentially altered in the third, and finally melted down in the fourth into an Article, which we have agreed in substance to accept. It is also to be noticed that the British Plenipotentiaries have not replied to any one of our Notes without a previous reference to their Government, so that there has been always an interval of eight or ten days between their receipt of a Note from us, and our receipt of their answer.